A do-or-die battle in Naples, Italy will highlight the last week of Group C play when Eldo Napoli hosts Benetton Treviso on Wednesday. At the end of its first Euroleague regular season, Eldo (6-7) is in a rare situation: it will be third in Group C with a victory, but no better than sixth - and most likely eliminated - with a loss. Meanwhile, Benetton (7-6) is already qualified for the Top 16 and will also be third if it beats Eldo, but it can also be fourth or fifth with a loss, depending on other results involving Elan Bearnais Pau-Orthez (6-7) and Aris TT Bank (6-7). Eldo beat Benetton 64-70 in Treviso last December and is one a three-game winning streak. Meanwhile, Benetton only has a 2-4 Euroleague road record this season. Eldo will be most concerned with slowing Benetton's backcourt featuring Nikos Zisis (12 ppg., 5 1pg.) and Week 13 MVP Terrell Lyday (9.8 ppg., 2.2 spg.). Both players can count on Marco Mordente (10.9 ppg., 60.5% 3FG) to provide help off the bench, sharing minutes at either wing spot with Bryant Smith (3.7 ppg.) and team captain Matteo Soragna (7.8 ppg.). Zisis will have a tough test against Tyrone Ellis (10.9 ppg., 3.4 apg.), who had 29 points in a road win against Fenerbahce Ulker last week that kept Napoli's season alive. Meanwhile, Lyday will test his scoring skills against Michel Morandais (11.4 ppg., 5.5 rpg.), who grabbed 16 rebounds in Istanbul. Both Ellis and Morandais highlight a deep, interesting backcourt featuring defensive ace Jeff Trepagnier (10.2 ppg. 1.1 spg.), playmaker Valerio Spinelli (2.5 apg.) or streak shooters Matteo Malaventura (44% 3FG) and Jay Larranaga (5.2 ppg.). Benetton runs its offense through its frontcourt combo, Marcus Goree (13 ppg., 6.6 rpg.) and Spencer Nelson (9.5 ppg., 7.2 rpg.), with Joey Beard (3 rpg.) and Angelo Gigli (7.7 ppg., 3.8 rpg.) providing help on the boards and deep range, respectively, off the bench. Gigli and Nelson will have an interesting matchup against Ansu Sesay (9.9 ppg., 42.6% 3FG), while Goree will test his rebounding skills against Mason Rocca (11.8 ppg., 6.8 rpg.) and Alessandro Cittadini (5.8 ppg., 65.9% 2FG). Most of all, this is the test of the season for Eldo, with a big reward in case of victory and probable elimination in case of defeat. The home team will have pressure, but can expect a sellout crowd in PalaEldo to try to take it all the way to the Top 16.
Tuesday, January 30, 2007